Sales of new cars in United Kingdom slump in March
Апреля 23 2018, 08:55 | Alonzo Simpson
Diesel new car demand down by a third as fleet and business registrations also fall
There were 245,446 units registered to fleet and business last month, compared to 288,618 units during March 2017, equating to a market share of nearly 52%.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) pointed out that March 2017 was the biggest month ever for new auto registrations, as buyers rushed to beat new vehicle excise duty rates that came into force in April a year ago, and that March 2018 was still the fourth best March on record.
The market for alternatively fuelled vehicles has continued to grow apace, seeing a 9.8% rise compared to the same period previous year - although still only making up a small proportion of the overall number of new cars on the market - 36,693 out of a total 718,489.
Weakening consumer confidence in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote has also been blamed by the industry body and some dealership bosses for faltering registrations in Britain over the last 12 months after record highs in 2015 and 2016.
Industry expert Christopher McGowan commented: "The industry knew that this year was going to be down between 5-8% but if it was to continue at 15% that would be very, very serious indeed".
Ashley Barnett, head of consultancy at Lex Autolease, said: "Even though last year's March numbers were boosted ahead of new Vehicle Excise Duty taxation changes coming into force, this is the first year-on-year decline we've seen in seven years".
The fall in overall demand was fairly uniform across different types of buyers, with private registrations down 16.5%, fleet registrations down 15%, and business registrations (to fleets with less than 25 vehicles) down 14.3%.
SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes defended the need for new, clean diesel models as vehicle excise duty rises this month for most new diesel auto buyers.
The high level of decline follows a record-breaking 2017, as auto buyers scrambled to buy new vehicles before changes to vehicle tax last April.
"Despite this, the market itself is relatively high with the underlying factors in terms of consumer choice, finance availability and cost of ownership all highly competitive".
Diesel vehicles are known to emit lower levels of Carbon dioxide than petrol vehicles, thus helping to reduce the impact of transport on climate change, and have therefore enjoyed favourable taxation rates compared to petrol cars.
There are few surprises when it comes to the UK's most popular cars so far this year, with the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Qashqai taking first, second and third place both in March and in the year to date.
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